Gounardes Inches Closer To Passing Verrazzano Discount

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BAY RIDGE — Soon Brooklyn residents can travel across the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge at the same discounted rate as their Staten Island neighbors.

Verrazzano Bridge. Liena Zagare/Bklyner

The New York Senate passed 55 – 2, State Sen. Andrew Gounardes’ bill allowing Brooklyn residents to receive the $7 to $14 discount Staten Islanders now get. Republicans Sens. Robert Ortt and Joseph Gritto of Upstate were the lone lawmakers to vote against the bill.

The proposed legislation must pass the Assembly, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo needs to sign the bill into law.  The discounted rate takes effect on the 13th date after it becomes law.

“For the Brooklyn residents who rely on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge for travel to work, school and medical appointments, the $19 toll is highway robbery, said Gounardes in an email. “It’s unaffordable, unacceptable, and highlights the gross inequities of New York’s transit system.”

The bill allows Brooklyn residents who use EZ-Pass and make at least 10 trips a month across the bridge to enroll in the MTA’s Rebate Program. The program offers a significant discount, reducing the one-way toll price to $5.50.

Late April, U.S. Congressman Max Rose, a Democrat, announced he’d support federal regulation to re-instate split tolling along the Verrazzano-Narrows to generate revenue and reduce congestion. Split tolling would cut the fair in half to be paid in both directions. Currently, drivers pay a toll entering Staten Island only.

Since Rose’s announcement, the Transporation Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations subcommittee passed legislation that includes split tolling language. The Congressman expects the U.S. Appropriations Committee to take on the legislation soon, according to a spokesperson.

It is not clear yet how the federal law will impact the state discount.

Gounardes, a Democrat, first introduced the bill mid-April after the governor found $6 million to stave off a $.40 hike for Staten Islanders who traverse across the bridge. The hike came in conjunction with a statewide increase on tolls and bridges.

“I’m glad the Senate voted on my bill and hope the Assembly can do the same so we can provide much-needed toll relief to New York residents,” Gounardes said.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. It’s about time. Many Staten Island residents still have family in Brooklyn. The unequal toll puts a burden to attend school or shop there, and for parents and grandparents to visit.

  2. This bill looks and sounds good until you come to the point “10 trips per month”. Really?
    when passing the bridges from NJ to Staten Island you’re getting a discount after 3 trips. Why is here you’ll need 10?
    5 or even 3 trips per month would be much more reasonable

  3. I thought D’Amato had this done at the federal level when he was in the US Senate(You remember: Senator Pothole). Just needs NY approval? Why didn’t arty Golden do it?

    Remember the unintended consequences: Trucks in the AM will use the Holland Tunnel and cross Canal Street to the Manhattan Bridge as they now do in the PM now. MTA will still lose revenues until Congestion Pricing comes in 2021.

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